At Kinequus we use only SAE F11 pressed industrial wool felt, and here’s why:
Wool felts are found in two basic types: Needled felt and pressed industrial felt. Synthetic felts are usually needled. Needling is a process by which heat, stem and vibrating pressure from needles lock the fibers over the top of each other. Pressed felt is made by heat, steam and oscillating pressure that locks the wool fibers together by sticking fibers to each other. The surface structure of the wool fibers allows them to lock together.
Needled felts contain high concentrations of synthetic material, contain tiny holes, are generally shiny, slippery and course feeling. Color ranges from black, to dark grays, to motile grays with lots of color thread showing, to white. Most pads made with needled felt are sewn around the edges to prevent fraying of the materials looser composition. Needled felts are used mainly due to their cheaper costs.
Pressed industrial felts don’t contain holes. They are softer, suppler and depending on grade have no shiny synthetic material. Colors range from dark gray to off white. The more virgin wool contained in the pressed felt, the lighter the color and suppler the feel.
Pressed industrial felts are standardized into 15 categories. Most saddle pad makers use an F15 grade which has a dark gray, almost a charcoal look. It contains 55% maximum virgin wool and 45% reworked wool content. Reworked wool comes from yarn previously processed for some other application and may be blended with synthetic fibers.
F11 felt has 92% minimum virgin wool and 8% reworked content. The F11 is very light gray, very soft, smooth finish and very supple.
So what difference does it make when someone wants a wool felt pad and why would they look for a F11 felt as opposed to a F15 felt. International Felting Standards shows that the F11 felt has a much higher compression rating and tensile strength than F15. Additionally, the higher the virgin wool content of the felt, the better the wicking ability. So in addition to keeping your horse cooler and dryer, it will also absorb more and repeated shock/compression events than F15 pressed industrial felt.
Kinequus uses only real wool shearling in our English pad construction, maintaining our belief in using only the best materials in our saddle pads. All of our saddle material is produced and tanned in the USA. These skins meet very stringent criteria, including minimum sizes, temper and wool character. Consistency in the wool density and about 25,000 fibers per inch sets the skins we utilize apart from the rest.
Wool is viewed as hypoallergenic by the medical industry, dissipates heat aiding cooling, provides excellent compression protection, absorbs up to 36% of its own weight in water (cotton absorbs only 10% for comparison) and is very durable and resilient.
Why is our wool not white? Pure white wool has been chemically bleached and/or the hides chemically tanned. These chemicals have the potential to leach out with the heat and steam created when you ride. This process may cause irritation to your horse. The only other option is to use a synthetic or choose a natural colored non-chemically tanned/bleached shearling.Buy Now!